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PPcenter. Arts and craft for my Sega Saturn. Since 1847 :D

Nostalgia time : ietx2 old (buggy) beta iso for download

Written by cafealpha no comments
After making some cleanup in my development folders, I found an old archive file
It is dated 2007 June 20, and contains a very early version of ietx2, which is an adaptation of yeti3D engine to Saturn.
At that time, I was using a PentiumIV processor and 80GB IDE hard disk in order to run sh-elf-gcc provided by SaturnOrbit ... very nostalgic times ... but I definitely prefer nowadays for Saturn development

Iso file can be found >>> here <<<.
(No, there are no sources available, because I didn't kept archives of sources at that time.)

Please don't waste a CD-R for this. You can try on yabause, or just look at screenshot and say "hey, very ugly stuff" however.

data/images/20150410_ieti01.png
ietx2 beta screenshot : not enough time to draw last quads in VDP1 list, hence the garbage on foreground.

data/images/20150410_ieti02.png
ietx2 beta screenshot : example of incorrect rendering when quads coordinates exceed 16 bits range.

Present version

You can find current version (ietx2) and sources of my Yeti3D adaptation here (dated 2011 April 19).
Also, there are videos of ietx2 available below. Click on the links to display them on youtube.
data/images/20150410_ietx2_01.png


Future (?) version

I'm still maintaining sources of ietx2.
I renamed project name to ietx3 (yeah, I'm not very original when choosing project names ), and now use a lite version of Yeti3D PRO engine ... "lite" means original, minus a lot of features, in order to keep a decent frame rate, and fitting to Saturn resources.
You can find some videos (binaries are not released, sorry) on my youtube channel :

Read more Nostalgia time : ietx2 old (buggy) beta iso for download

Saturn cartridge firmware flasher utility : major (final ?) update

Written by cafealpha 6 comments
I made many fixes to my flasher utility. (Old article available here , even older article available here)

Changelog :
  - Tested on around 30 Action Replay cartridges. It was working fine for all known flash chips.
  - Ask for confirmation before returning to multiplayer screen.
  - Return back to initial screen in the case user don't want to go to multiplayer screen.
  - Retrieve and display chips IDs when firmware selection menu is displaying.
  - Fixed erase/flash operations for AT29C010 flash chips.
  - Minor fix about text display.
  - Fix for BFBF/1010 flash chips.
  - In the case Action Replay flash chips is supected, display disclaimer
    before flashing as a typical Action Replay flash device (SST29EE).
  - Refresh vendor/device IDs display during error/disclaimer message display
    in the case flash is not recognized.
  - Major changes in menu related routines.
  - Added key auto repeat feature : holding Up/Down button should scroll automatically now.
  - Added erase verification test.
  - If erase/write verification test failed, display informations about failure.
  - Use FRT-based delay during flash write/erase.
  - Changed highlight color in menus.
  - Change color of vendor/device strings according to chips flashability.
     - Hopeless   : red
     - Maybe OK   : yellow
     - Recognized : green

In short, it now has nearly the same compatibility as legacy arflash/Atlas utility, while being SGL-free (it doesn't uses Sega libraries), compatible with newer flash chips, embedding several firmwares in a same executable file, etc, etc.

In the case this flasher is not compatible with your Action Replay (it may happen, I don't decide about future revisions of Action Replay cartridges), please let me know in this article's comments or by email .
However, please note that I don't plan to add new features to this utility. New features were added during beta testing phase, and I really thanks beta testers for this.

Some screenshots from beta testers :
data/images/20150115_gameofyou_bfbf_1212.tb.jpg
BFBF/1212 flash chip, now recognized as SST/Greenliant type.
Picture provided by gameofyou1.


data/images/20150304_tabajaralabs_0101_2020.jpg
0101/2020 flash chips : everything is working fine, as in the previous version of the flasher utility.
Picture provided by TabajaraLabs.



data/images/20150305_amoc_53bf_4707.tb.jpg

data/images/20150305_amoc_53bf_4707_cart.tb.jpg
Weird 53BF/4707 flash chips : one chip is recognized as typical BF/07 (SST), while the other doesn't returns its vendor/device IDs.
As you can see on PCB picture, flash chips on right side are different, so that they return different vendor/device IDs.
Pictures provided by A Murder Of Crows.



data/images/20150316_sonic_dcer_1f1f_d5d5_fail.tb.jpg

data/images/20150316_sonic_dcer_1f1f_d5d5_ok.tb.jpg

data/images/20150316_sonic_dcer_1f1f_d5d5_cart.tb.jpg
1F1F/D5D5 flash chips : pictures before and after I fix the Flasher utility.
It (finally) works on latest version
Pictures provided by Sonic Dreamcaster.


data/images/20150315_zorlon_bfbf_1010.tb.jpg

data/images/20150317_saturnar_bfbf_1010_cart.tb.jpg

data/images/20150315_zorlon_bfbf_1010.tb.jpg
BFBF/1010 flash chips : according to datasheet, theses flash chips have twice more memory than usual chips (total 256KB -> 512KB).
However, a look at cartridge PCB between C6 capacitor and bottom-right flash chip shows that most significant address bit is grounded, so only 256KB can be addressed from Saturn ... what a pity
Pictures provided by SaturnAR and Zorlon.


You can download Flasher utility and its source code here : flasher_arp_20150326.7zhttp://ppcenter.webou.net/pskai/
Disclaimer #1 : You will loose your cartridge backup data after flashing it.
Disclaimer #2 : I'm not responsible in the case I brick your cartridge and/or damage your Saturn.

Note : I didn't made PseudoSaturn firmware. All thanks about PseudoSaturn firmware must go to CyberwarriorX.

Read more Saturn cartridge firmware flasher utility : major (final ?) update

USB dev cart for sale soon

Written by cafealpha no comments
I'm about to gather parts in order to make new USB dev cart !
I hope to have some free time at the end of the month to assemble few ones, so please let me know in the comments or by email if you want to preorder one unit

Only very few SST39SF040 flash chips were available for sale from IC supplier, so I bought SST39SF020 instead. On Saturn side, this change makes flash memory dropping from 1MB to 512KB, but USB dev cart itself uses only few tens of KB to work, so everything is fine

First, I will assemble my personal USB dev cart, because I sold it few months ago ... I can't wait to finally be able to debug software on my Saturn

Edit (2015/03/10) : My personal cartridge (until I sell it ) is ready and tested !
data/images/20150310_rev1b.tb.jpg
The PCB is a old version, hence some ICs are unused and unsoldered. Latest PCB version has a cleaner design
Two more cartridges are waiting for flashing and testing before selling. I plan to do this on next week.

Read more USB dev cart for sale soon

Backup Manager - Early Version #1

Written by cafealpha 8 comments
So I'm currently making a Saturn Backup Data Manager utility.
What's this ? It is a remake of "Memory Manager" utility present in Saturn BIOS.
data/images/20150204_backup_manager_sega1.png
Sega Memory Manager utility : main screen

It already exists, and can be used from BIOS, so why making such an utility ?
I have some reasons that pushed me making this, and one of theses is that Memory Manager user interface is very cheap, especially, it doesn't allows to select multiple backup data and copy/delete them. (Dear Sega, why didn't you developed this feature ??)
Also, there are some new features I would like to add, such as hex-edit of memory data ... I have very few time to play now (real life, children, cancer, etc), so 999 lives in Backup data is a must-have feature

This utility is currently WIP, so no download link is available right now, but it is WIP enough to publish screens on my blog
So here is what it looks like now :
data/images/20150204_backup_manager1.png
Backup Data Manager Main Screen

Don't trust the development progress only by looking at the main menu : everything behind is far for being finished
But at least, menu library itself is more or less completed, and I'm very glad about this point.

Here is a comparison of data selection screens :
data/images/20150204_backup_manager_sega2.png
Data Selection (Sega)
data/images/20150204_backup_manager3.png
Data Selection (this utility)

Yeah, I know that Japanese text is not displaying properly ... this will be fixed, but the priority for this is low, so please be patient.
And what is the green text display on Backup Data Manager screen ? This is multiple items selection

As a bonus, here are screens of Backup Manager running on real hardware.
Pictures were taken last September, when I still had a modchipped Saturn ready for use ... after that I was busy with medical stuff, and moving to a new apartment, so my Saturn I used for testing is currently hidden in a cardboard ...
data/images/20150204_backupmngr_hwtest1.tb.jpg
Early version of Backup Manager, picture was taken 4 months ago.
Can you spot the differences with current version ? ^^


data/images/20150204_backupmngr_hwtest2.tb.jpg
SatLink running on my 8 years old laptop, connected to my Saturn via USB dev cart.
This development environment is by faaar more convenient than $500+ vintage
development hardware/carts/whatever floating on ebay ♪



Among the things I would like to add before a release, there is the Saturn FDD support ... but I don't own Saturn FDD unit, and the cheapest unit I could find on auction sites costs 10'000 Yens, and the seller doesn't guarantee that it still works ...
I won't pay 10K Yens for a vintage objet I will only use once a year (and I fear my wife would trash it if she founds it ), so if somebody is ready to give some time for beta testing with Saturn Floppy Disk Drive, please let me know in the comments

Read more Backup Manager - Early Version #1

Treatment report (2014/12/22) : MRI

Written by cafealpha no comments
Today was a MRI day !
MRI taken so far (4 or 5 times) were took with contrast medium (liquid sent via intravenous in order to see clearly veins), but this time was the first time without contrast medium !
It was a little strange that catheter were not used this time, and it was so "easy mode" that I half felt asleep during MRI exposure session  ^^;

One anecdote about this day is that when I entered in MRI room in order to put off clothes and wait for my turn, atmosphere in the room was a little strained, and 3 bodyguard shaped guys were waiting with MRI technical staff.
Maybe theses guys are maintenance staff ? But they definitely didn't looked like : they only stare at the window and monitors showing the MRI patient just before me.
When it was my turn, I understood why atmosphere was a little strained : bodyguard shaped guys took handcuffs and put them to the MRI patient just before me : he was a prisoner, and today was something like his "quarter-liberty day" outside the prison !
It was the first time I saw a prisoner for real (not on the TV, internet, whatever) in Japan.

Additional CT is scheduled for next month, so see you later for my next adventures


PS : I'm looking for a laptop better than the one I'm using now. Is there somebody to help me ?
My requirements are as follow :
 - No need brand new laptop, used laptop is OK
 - Screen resolution >= 1366 x 768
 - DDR3 SO-DIMM memory slots x 2
 - RAM address area >= 8GB
 - Battery for offline use >= 2 hours
 - CPU >= Core 2 Duo
 - Japanese or US qwerty keyboard
 - No need of OS, HDD and RAM, I already have theses parts here.
 - No more than USD 150
 - Easy to purchase in Shikoku area (Japan).
I looked in Hard Off ... only found a SNK 95 Saturn cartridge and very old or very expensive laptops.
I looked in PC Depot ... only found a good Sony laptop very cheap ... with broken LCD. And of course, nothing about LCD damage indicated near price tag
Any other idea where to search ?

I plan to use this laptop for Saturn development stuff

Here is a picture of the laptop I'm currently using :
data/images/20141222_laptop.tb.jpg
Old stuff from 2007, with 2GB RAM (no more addressable space ... what a pity), and a 512GB SSD.

Read more Treatment report (2014/12/22) : MRI

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